nip tuck and weave
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|User Gallery||MY HT PROCEDURE AT THE MAITLAND CLINIC – Dr Ball (January 2017)
I have used this excellent forum and website for a number of years as it has always been a fantastic source of information, help, advice and guidance to me – it’s the best site out there for anybody who is thinking of a transplant and doing your research. It was therefore the only place for me to post details of my experience so that I can hopefully go some way to helping others who are unsure of what’s involved. I therefore hope the following is useful.
First a brief bit of history about my hair loss – began losing my hair in my mid to late 20’s with the receding hairline and the classic ‘island’ of hair forming at the front. The crown then began to thin out gradually over the years taking on a ‘monk’ look although not completely bald. I took finasteride for years then moved on to Avodart Dustasteride which I still take to this day along with other vitamins to help combat hair loss. I think this has really slowed down my hair loss but it has still progressed gradually over the years. I therefore relied heavily on hair fibres for years. This probably didn’t do my hair much good as I used to leave it in for a few days, lock it in with hairspray and then wash it twice a week. I know this sounds grim but it was such a rigmarole getting it looking right that I simply could not go through it more than twice a week.
I finally succumbed to having my first Hair Transplant 9 years ago in New York to address the frontal area where it had receded. It was an OK procedure, it did the job I needed and it has served me well but it could have been better. I still relied on hair fibres to cover the overall thin scalp and the crown progressively got worse.
Here are some pre-op photos of me prior to the procedure with Dr Ball: -
Fed up with using hair fibres, I had considered having another procedure for years but I couldn’t afford it and I couldn’t work it right to avoid people at work etc. and hide away during the post op phase. Finally, circumstance fell right and I started to research to find out where / who was currently producing good results – looking overseas and Europe as well as in the UK. It was by pure luck that I was told Dr Ball (who used to work under Ziering and who I had already read excellent things about) had set up the Maitland Clinic with Janna Schafer. Janna used to work for Shapiro Medical in Minnesota and I was fully aware of her years of experience and having spoken to her over the years about the possibility of going over there for a HT. Therefore, the Maitland Clinic was a match made in heaven for me – I was so pleased to know they were setting up.
To me it felt “meant to be” as I had waited all these years for a chance for another HT and then I find out about the Maitland Clinic – I couldn’t be happier. So, without wasting any time, I booked an appointment to go down to their clinic in Portsmouth last year for a consultation. It was great to finally meet Janna and Dr Ball. The consultation went very well and they both had plenty of time for me to discuss what I wanted, what could be done and the best procedure (FUT or FUE) to suit me. They were very realistic about everything, the main areas to address, how many grafts I could expect etc. and their advice was second to none. Fortunately, my donor area was good for both the FUT or FUE method but I opted for FUE as personally for me, I didn’t want a strip of skin cutting out this time and stitches etc. I felt FUE was a quicker / cleaner / safer option with no risk of skin stretching etc. I came away feeling very good and confident that I had made the right choice. I therefore booked a procedure for January 2017.
So, the day came and I arrived the day before my procedure to finalise what areas were going to be addressed, how many grafts, cost etc. etc. My aim was to address the thinning crown and the receding temples. The attention to detail from Dr Ball and Janna was excellent – they were honest, clear and realistic about everything. It’s very easy to get greedy and want all your balding areas addressing at once but this isn’t realistic and Dr Ball explains expectations etc. For what I needed we were looking at around 2000 to 2200 grafts. All the areas to be address were marked up in pen on my head like a road map and because Dr Ball wanted to do the best job he could, my head need shaving all over down to grade 0. I was already prepared for this and didn’t mind as I would rather this be done to allow Dr Ball to do the best job he could. I must admit, I didn’t look great but after a bit, I got used to it. The only thing was you could see my first HT strip scar which was wider than I thought – about 3 or 4 mm in places so this didn’t look great. I will probably address this with scalp pigmentation in the future but I knew it will be covered anyway once the hair grew back.
I stopped at the local Premier Inn which was very convenient for the clinic. I had already checked in to the hotel before going to the clinic for the pre-op check-up and shaving. This was a good idea as when I got to the hotel later, I simply walked through reception up to my room. I had lines all over my shaved head so it looked like a sort of world globe. I booked a taxi for the morning of the procedure.
So, the day of procedure arrived – I made sure I took a loose fitting and button up top that could be easily removed later as you don’t want to be taking off anything over your head and risking catching the new placed hairs. I took a couple of lose / large baseball caps, a bandana, and a VERY light oversized hooded top with plenty of room in it. I took all these as I didn’t know which would be best. As it turned out the light hooded top was the best and I would recommend this. The hood was made of a thin material like umbrella material – ideal at the end of the day as it would gently rest on the head after the procedure. I also took a little bag with my phone in, paperwork, deodorant etc. etc. I had also stringently followed the pre-procedure notes which are provided such as no coffee on the morning, cutting out alcohol and exercise before the procedure etc. etc. This is all very important. I took food with me to the hotel so I didn’t have to go out or go down to the restaurant with a shaved head with lines on! I took pot noodles, bananas, chocolate, cereal bars etc. etc. This to me was the best thing to do.
The taxi driver was very good – I kept my hood up in the taxi and I just told him why. I thought I won’t see him again so it didn’t matter. The clinic is within a business centre and the ladies on reception at the business centre were great too – I just told them why I was wearing my hood up and well they are used to it anyway.
I arrived at the clinic for about 7.30am, nice an early. I wasn’t nervous at all. The staff and team were excellent from greeting at reception, right through to the end. They made you feel special and that it was your day and they were all there for you. I felt like I was a celebrity, they couldn’t do enough for you. Very professional. They put you at ease and talked through everything that was going to happen. The clinic itself is fabulous – very clean, new, modern and comfortable. I knew I had made the right choice just based on how everything was presented.
So, after another recap of what to expect and what was going to happen, I went to the procedure room. I was first given some medication for relaxing me, my head was cleaned again so everything was hygienic and I was given a sort of paper towel smock to wear over my top. I will say that I was talked through everything and this was continual throughout the whole procedure so you know exactly what was happening, was going to happen next and when breaks were going to be etc. My donor area was first numbed and they used a sort of vibrating massager thing to dampen the pain of the needles – I believe it disrupts the nerve and confused the signal so the needle doesn’t hurt. Once the first few are done, it numbs the area for the next lot anyway. To be honest, the needle didn’t hurt anyway – it was just like a very quick short sharp scratch. A couple of test grafts were taken to see how they were coming out – this went well. Dr Ball then proceeded to numb the rest of the donor area and when this was ready, next the recipient areas were numbed and they began punching holes ready to receive the grafts. I guess the hardest part for me was laying face down when all the donor hair was being punched out of the back / sides of my head but you sort of nod off – it’s quite relaxing. I was constantly asked if I was OK, did I feel pain, any problems etc. etc. which I thought was excellent – the staff were brilliant in this way. My head kept getting cleaned and wiped, everything was very hygienic and clean, bandages kept getting cleaned, they kept putting Vaseline around the donor area for protecting against infection and keeping the area moist / healthy and you had water to drink, you could go to the toilet when you wanted. They brought snacks and food during the morning and for dinner. All this is provided. Just brilliant really…the attention, care and professionalism was clear throughout. The next and final step was the placement of the grafts. This was just like someone gently pressing on your head – you don’t feel a thing. You actually end up nodding off although I watched a couple of films which were provided by the Clinic and they were right up to date films so this was good. It was a long session and we finally got done about 8pm.
We were all exhausted and we sat and chatted for a while – everything looked excellent, very clean and tidy. They ordered in a pizza for us to eat whilst I waited for my taxi. Which I thought was a nice touch. They put more Vaseline on, cleaned everything up, put bandages around the donor area and put cling film gently over my head to protect the grafts and keep the donor area protected. Dr Ball provided all the pain medication etc. I needed, including an after-care pack which was brilliant – there were pillow sheets, wipes, Vaseline, ATP spray, latex gloves, wipes, timetable etc. all sorts for what to do beyond surgery such as when to wash etc. This was a great touch which I didn’t expect. I ended up with 2196 grafts which was a total of 4514 hairs made up of 263 x 1 hair grafts, 1548 x 2 hair grafts and 385 x 3/4 hair grafts – I was very pleased with this. A good amount especially in one go and I was also told I had more availability for the future.
Here are some photos immediately post op / day of procedure – all looking very clean:
(Please note the FUT scar line is from my previous procedure – not with Dr Ball)
I was worried about what I would say to the taxi driver who was picking me up after the procedure and the hotel but I just kept my lightweight hood up gently over the head and it worked a treat. Again, I just told the taxi drive anyway and he was brilliant – even offered to carry my bag and help me into the hotel. At the hotel, I just went through reception with my hood up and nobody battered an eyelid.
Didn’t sleep a lot that night as I kept applying the ATP spray as instructed and taking the medication. I wasn’t in any pain at all and there was no swelling in the coming days. It was more uncomfortable than anything as you must sleep upright with your head in a neck ring thing so you don’t roll on the pillow and disturb the grafts.
The next morning, again I was worried about checking out. I gently replaced the cling film myself – this serves to protect the grafts from getting knocked out and keep the area moist, clean and free from infection. Going back to checking out, it was fine as I could just put my key card in a box and leave the hotel without seeing anyone. I kept my hood up anyway. Off I head to the clinic as they like to see you before you head off home and they will wash the hair etc. and provide you with more aftercare stuff if you need it.
However, I decided over night that there was another small area of the hairline that I wished I had addressed. When I arrived at the clinic the day after the main procedure, I asked Janna is there was any possibility of carrying out another mini FUE to address this area. This was my fault, I should have thought about it at the time. However, Dr Ball was brilliant as he could fit me in and do a further little procedure that morning. This was wonderful and I am so grateful for them to do it at such short notice with hardly any staff in that day…just shows to me how professional and caring they are – they want you to be happy and will do anything they can to make sure of that. So, I had this done – about another 200 grafts I believe which I paid for separately. I got all cleaned up and sorted, cling film on, hood up and off I set of home…I was driving home, I had a 4 or 5-hour journey and to be honest, no problem at all. Even though the anaesthetic was wearing off, there was no pain or swelling. Everything looked very crisp, clean, neat and hygienic.
I followed the aftercare timetable to a tee over the next 10 days. There was no scabbing, the donor area healed very quickly without any problems. The redness went very quickly and everything healed up very well. After about 2 weeks, because the grafts were still there, I just looked like I had my head shaved and it looked OK. Fortunately, I could hide away for a few months but to be honest, I could have gone out and nobody would have known.
Here are some photos about 1 week post op – as you can see, healing very nicely already:
Over the next few weeks (I can’t remember exactly how long), the grafts slowly fell out and my existing native hair has gradually grown back. I am now pretty much looking as I did before the HT. It’s now about 4.5 months’ post op. There isn’t massive difference to report yet but things are starting to appear slowly. I look forward to posting a further update at the 6-month mark.
In summary, my experience with Dr Ball and Janna was exceptional from initial consultation to finish. His professionalism and attention to detail is very apparent throughout the whole procedure. Both Dr Ball and Janna really care about their patients. They will look after you all the way through and the level of skill and technique is simply world class. The staff and the team are fantastic. I won’t hesitate to go there again if I decide to have more work done in the future.